I have observed that, no matter how just the cause, there is always a contingent willing to turn a cause into a crusade. I believe that a cause can be gently and lovingly advocated for and result in a positive change. Conversely, if the cause is not motivated by love it can turn into a crusade and results in an “us” against “them” mentality.
As an example, look at the issue of racial equality in America. I can not think of a more noble cause than that of human freedoms and equality. Obviously, there were strong feelings on both sides of the issue, resulting in years of clashes between the two warring factions, until one man made the effort to turn a crusade into a cause.
That man was Martin Luther King Jr. In his lifetime, the crusade for equality was waxing hot and both sides were ready to fight to the death on the issue. Dr. King had every right to be angry and frustrated with the generations of abuse endured by his friends and family; however, he chose to allow love, mercy and compassion to steer him away from the dividing anger, frustration and hate of a crusade. His place in history is forever secured as the catalyst that brought about equal rights. The cause cost him his life, but I believe he had already counted the cost and was willing to love no matter the price.
Dr. King was motivated by the most important of biblical commands; love God and love your neighbor as yourself. This is what turned a crusade into a world changing cause. It was not his motivation for justice or truth, it was love. That is what enabled him to be in the influential positions that he found himself. No doubt the crusaders around him found his ideas clichéd or simply platitudes but he was not willing to give up on his dream, simply because others could not see it.
To my children:
No doubt there will come a time when you find a cause worthy of your effort. As your father I want to see you be successful in all that you do, so I ask you to be cautious not to allow your cause to become a crusade. Never allow your sense of justice or truth, to override the universal need for love and mercy. The life of Jesus is a great example and the pages of the Bible can be your guide. I do not understand all of the directives in the Bible. I guess that is fitting though, because I believe it to be inspired by God himself. If I could study it for a few years and understand all of it’s concepts, God would not be much of a God. So, don’t throw it out simply because you can’t wrap your head around it.
I understand that what I am asking of you is difficult. It will require maturity. Not simply the act of getting older, but true maturity. I have witnessed maturity in a 19 year old and witnessed it’s absence in a 50 year old, so don’t trust that maturity will simply come with age. You need to purpose in yourself to take the high road of love and mercy. Then you, also, will secure your place in history as the catalyst that turns dreams into reality.
Remember: Crusades require others to give their life, causes require you to give your life.